It is stormy this morning. I'm sitting by the big windows upstairs and watching the mass of vibrantly green trees in the field next door shake. It is a 10am storm, yes it is. I wonder if the aspen (now growing in the wooden plot that was once our vegetable garden) knows it is being fed or if it just is frightened by the loudness of the sky. I know that God needs to water the earth, and intricately, this is how He does it. An ordinary trend in all aspects of life: pain produces fruit. I finished A Grief Observed a couple days ago whilst sitting by the fire/tightly zipped in a blue, nylon sleeping bag at Wild River State Park. It's pretty short, really it only takes a day or so to read. The book follows the thoughts and emotions of C.S. Lewis after his beloved wife died of cancer in 1960. I highly recommend it to anyone who has known any sort of grief of any kind (not just a death). He nails the strength of feeling and conversely, the promises God has laid out in exactness. The book opens with this:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me."
Pastor Steve preached a message on grief at HopeCC a couple months ago and explained why grief feels so wrong, so confusing. He described us as how we first were, in Eden, and clarified that we were not created for mourning or despair or any of those numerous feelings that fit in the black bag of suffering.
Elisabeth Elliot says in Passion and Purity: "The most deeply taught Christians are generally those who have been brought into the searching fires of deep soul-anguish. If you have been praying to know more of Christ, do not be surprised if He takes you aside into a desert place, or leads you into a furnace of pain."
While we as humans were not fashioned for bereavement, the beauty of it all is that God still uses pain to produce good, in fact even marvelous, things (This seems like an obvious, cliche statement, but is in fact a very difficult thing to grasp when in the midst of it). The fight occurs when our flesh desires to ease the searing ache with worldly tools. Our souls are too eternal for this ("He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart..." Ecc. 3:11) - everything we try to fill this gaping in our hearts with falls right out, our souls are bottomless. Only He, who is eternal, can fill something fashioned with eternity in its rims.
I think this grief-manufacturing-hope is beautiful in a different kind of way than any normal, pretty thing generally is. I find it complex and mysterious and grand. It is like the night birds that I heard in the tree by my window two nights ago at 3AM. It is like the conversation with Jessie, yesterday, downtown, when she told me about hurts and grace, and her words were like jewels on the air. It is the "letting down of wings" (Ezekiel 1:25) and the changing of dust.
I am grateful for this. All of it. Praying for fresh, new, healing things.